'Toy Story 4' Director Josh Cooley to Tackle 'Malamander' for Sony Pictures (Exclusive)

Malamander book cover- Josh Cooley - Publicity - Getty - Split - H 2020
Walker Books; Getty Images
The adaptation of the Thomas Taylor book will mark Cooley's live-action directorial debut.

Josh Cooley, who helmed the Oscar-winning Toy Story 4, is set to write and make his live-action directorial debut with Malamander, an adaptation of the best-selling children’s book by Thomas Taylor set up at Sony Pictures.

Malamander is set in Eerie-on-Sea, a seaside town filled with oddball characters and mysteries as murky as its winter fog. A young boy named Herbert Lemon, who acts as a hotel’s lost-and-found director, teams up with Violet Parma, a young girl who is looking for parents she lost as a baby, setting off on an adventure that involves a half-man, half-monster who is said to make dreams come true and a hook-handed man pursuing them.

The book has been translated into 20 languages worldwide to date and garnered a nomination for the Carnegie Medal. The sequel, Gargantis, was published May 7 in the U.K. and will be available in the U.S. on May 26 through Walker Books/Walker Books US.

Cooley spent 17 years at Pixar, working as a storyboard artist on movies such as The Incredibles and Cars, and acting as a writer on 2015’s Inside Out, for which he received an Academy Award nomination for best original screenplay. He had big shoes to fill, and a legacy to uphold, when he took on the fourth installment of the company’s venerable Toy Story franchise. The resulting movie melted hearts on the way to collecting more than $1 billion at the box office and the best animated feature Oscar in February.

Deciding to strike out on his own, Cooley left Pixar in mid-March, just as the coronavirus pandemic lockdown was imposed. He quietly signed with CAA and Grandview, and, though pursued by several animation houses offering deals, decided to bet on himself. Cooley quickly lined up the sought-after directing gig of Paramount and Hasbro’s inaugural Transformers theatrical animated movie. Malamander is his second get.

“Creating films and telling stories at Pixar for 17 years has been a dream,” Cooley said in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter. “The quality of our storytelling was a direct correlation to the quality of the people at Pixar who shaped those stories together, and they will always be my family. And while it was a hard decision to leave, I am so excited to jump into and create new worlds with new collaborators and partners. There are so many stories that I want to tell, and I hope to bring some of that Pixar magic with me wherever I go.”

Peter Kang is overseeing Malamander on behalf of Sony. Cooley is additionally repped by Jackoway Austen.